Android Nougat won’t be coming to Snapdragon 800/801 devices

Snapdragon-801-block-diagram

When releasing the next product in a product line, manufacturers are faced with a dilemma: Should they maintain compatibility with older products, and thus divert time and effort towards maintaining them, or should they ditch compatibility in favor of new features.

Google, it seems has gone with the latter route. The latest Android release, Nougat, won’t be compatible with the Nexus 5. Understandably, the Nexus 5 is three years old, and that’s an eternity in the smartphone industry. However, when you dig deeper, you would find that manufacturer support isn’t the only reason why the Nexus 5, or for that matter, the Z3 isn’t receiving an update to Nougat.

There are two main rumors discussing the absence of certain devices from the Nougat update list. One is that Google has made compatibility with the Vulkan API mandatory, and since Qualcomm hasn’t released drivers for the Snapdragon 800/801 chipset, devices with the Snapdragon 800/801 would not be compatible with Nougat.

However, Sony devices have been running early builds of Nougat just fine. It seems that Vulkan compatibility was made mandatory in a later build. However, devices with lower-end chipsets are getting the update to Nougat, and curiously enough, low-end Android One devices are getting the update. Whilst Sony’s phone is every bit capable of running Nougat, these Android One devices are obviously much weaker, and some say that Google is offering these devices some leeway when it comes to updates. On the other side are the manufacturers like Samsung and Sony, which have no choice but to comply with Google’s rules.

According to Android Authority, the absence of certain devices is not due to Vulkan compatibility, but due to 64 bit compatibility, or lack of it. If you look at the devices that got the update, you would observe that all of them have chipsets that are ARM v8 based, which is 64 bit compatible. In a bid to make 64 bit the defacto standard, Google may have restricted Nougat to just 64 bit devices.

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